Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
This coming Thursday we get world title action at Korakuen Hall on a show that features not only a world title bout, but also the long awaited debut of a man with a real point to prove, and rather unique back story, at least for Japanese boxing.
The world title bout will see IBF Atomweight champion Saemi Hanagata (16-7-4, 7) make her second defense, as she takes on the unbeaten, and fast tracked, Eri Matsuda (4-0, 1). The experienced Hanagata won the title in 2018, winning a world title in her 5th world title bout, and made her sole defense of the belt in September 2019, when she narrowly over-came Nao Ikeyema, ending their trilogy that had previously consisted of two draws. Matsuda on the other hand turned professional in 2018 and has moved incredibly quickly through the ranks, unifying Japanese and OPBF female titles in her first 3 bouts. In the ring this will be Hanagata's work rate and come forward pressure going up up against the movement and technical boxing skills of Matsuda, and it should make for an excellent match up in terms of styles and skills. Our preview of this bout can be read here IBF Queen Hanagata takes on unbeaten challenger Matsuda
In the chief support bout we'll see the long awaited debut of Narumi Yukawa (0-0), who was a talented amateur before being caught in possession of marijuana, which resulted in him getting a suspended sentence and putting his boxing career on hold. He's now served his time and will be debuting against Yuya Azuma (5-4-1, 1) in what should be a decent debut match up for the youngster. Interestingly Azuma was used as the debut opponent for Yukawa's stablemate Rentaro Kimura last year, and it's fair to saw that Yukawa will be looking to do better than the very highly touted Kimura.
Just to add, Yukawa has set him self a lofty goal for the sport, with Boxmob reporting his goal for boxing is to "defeat Naoya Inoue", maybe a rivalry for the future?
One other under-card bout on this show worthy of some attention is a match up between Ryu Oba (5-5, 3) and Mizuki Akima (5-3-1, 3). On paper this isn't anything special, though we were impressed by Oba last year, in his close decision loss to former Japanese champion Ryoichi Tamura, and there is clearly plenty to like about the 25 year old. The 29 year old Akima on the other hand won last time out and will feel confident of picking up another win here. This could end up being a bit of a sleeper hit given the toughness and styles of the men and the fact both will feel confident that they can pick up a win here in a well matched 6 rounder.
Tynyshpayev Academy of Transport and Communications, Almaty, Kazakhstan
As well as the Japanese show there is also set to be a low key card in Kazakhstan thanks to Tukeshov promotions. Sadly this card is a pretty poor one, though one with a lot of fights on it. In fact the card is set to feature 20 bouts in total, featuring 20 debutants, and not a single fighter with double digit pro bouts to their name.
The only notable name on this card is 19 year old Kazakh hopeful Dastan Saduuly (5-1, 5), who is looking to secure his third win of the year. The once beaten Saduuly, who was destroyed last year by Vildan Minasov, will be up against the debut Aibek Zholdasbekov (0-0) in a scheduled 8 rounder. Whilst this is Saduuly's third bout of 2021 it's not a step up at all and it's a second straight bout against a debutant. Fingers crossed he steps up and gets bouts that are based around developing his skills rather than just padding his record.
The Victoriva series of shows is different to pretty much anything else we get in professional boxing, as the shows don't just embrace female fighter, but sell completely on it. They are, for all intents and purposes, female boxing show cases, with some of the biggest female names in Japanese boxing taking part.
This coming Thursday we get the next show in the series and it's a title triple header, with two world title bouts, an Japanese female title bout and a real focus on the Atomweight division, a division only recognised in female boxing.
The main event of the card will see Saemi Hanagata (16-5-4, 7) and Nao Ikeyama (18-5-4, 5) fight in their third bout, with Hanagata looking to make her first defense of the IBF Atomweight. In their first two bouts these two actually fought to draws, showing how well matched they were, not however Ikeyama is heading towards her 50th birthday whilst Hanagata, for the first time in her career, is fighting as a world champion and looking to keep the title she tried so hard to win. We expect this to be a hotly contested bout, though feel that Ikeyama's age may finally have caught up with here. Our preview of this bout can be read here Hanagata and Ikeyama set to meet for third time, following two draws!
In the co-feature we'll see the WBA Atomweight title being unified as regular champion Monserrat Alarcon (12-4-2) takes on interim champion Ayaka Miyao (23-7-1, 6). These two were meant to fight in 2018, though Alarcon was injured in the lead up to the fight, leading to Miyao fighting Hanagata for the interim belt. Sadly Miyao has been inactive through the whole of 2019, and this is a tough return to the ring after so long out. We're expecting this to be a really fun, eye catching fight, and the styles should gel well, though we do feel the local fighter has the edge. Our preview of this contest is available to read here Miyao and Alarcon fight to unify WBA Atomweight crown!
The third title bout will see the fast rising Eri Matsuda (3-0) defending her Japanese Atomweight title, as she takes on Mont Blanc Miki (4-2-1, 1). Matsuda, who has already unified JBC and OPBF titles, is one of the most natural boxers on the female scene, and has a very text book style, basing things off her jab and movement. She should be far too good for Miki, who has been stopped twice already. We assume that the plan is for Matsuda to move to world level if she looks impressive here. Our preview of this national title fight can be read here Matsuda seeks first Japanese title defense!
One other bout of note here will see Nanae Suzuki (8-3-1, 1), who lost to Matsuda in March, battle against Minayo Kei (6-4, 1), who actually lost to Matsuda last year. The winner of this may well find themselves picking up the pieces after Matsuda steps up to world class, making this a genuinely significant match up in terms of the divisional development.
Whilst we understand most fans aren't too interested in female boxing, or the lower weights, we love these themed cards and this one certainly appears to be setting up longer narratives in terms of the Atomweight division. The bouts are all meaningful and potentially help set up future bouts, which is something the sport needs to try and do more often to try and get fans coming back and remaining interested in a longer vision.
We get the latest in the female only "Victoriva" series of shows this coming Wednesday as we get "Victoriva Vol 4" at the Korakuen Hall. The card isn't as stacked as some of the previous shows under the banner but does feature two really good looking title bouts, both of which are worthy of some attention for fans of female boxing.
The main event will see Atomweight titles being unified as OPBF champion Eri Matsuda (2-0) faces Japanese champion Nanae Suzuki (8-2-1, 1) in a fantastic match up. The unbeaten, and fast tracked, Matsuda is a delightful fighter to watch and her OPBF title win back in December was a brilliant performance, out pointing Minayo Kei over 8 rounds. Suzuki is a battler, and come be a nightmare up close for Matsuda, though the unbeaten fighter will look to make the most of her hand speed and excellent foot work, in what should be a great clash of styles. Our preview of this bout is available here Matsuda and Suzuki battle to unify titles!
The chief support bout will see JBC and OPBF female Bantamweight champion Miyo Yoshida (11-1) defending her national title, and we believe only the Japanese title, as JBC #1 ranked contender Yoshie Wakasa (6-0, 2). Yoshida has been on a tear, winning her last 7 bouts, unifying the Japanese and OPBF crowns and going 4-0 in title bouts. Wakasa is fighting in her first title bout, but as an unbeaten challenger she is clearly hungry and will be coming into this bout knowing it's her chance to get a career best win. This could be very, very exciting, even if it's not likely to be the tidiest of bouts to watch. Our preview of this bout is available here Yoshida takes on unbeaten Wakasa in upcoming defense
As well as the show in Tokyo there is also a Filipino card scheduled.
The main event here is set to be Jason Buenaobra (7-3-3, 3) taking on the once beaten Joseph Ambo (8-1-1, 6) in a well matched contest. The 24 year old Buenaobra is the only fighter to have heard the final bell with teenage sensation Carl Jammes Martin and has reeled off a 5 fight unbeaten run since then, but does lack power and hasn't scored a stoppage since his 5th bout. Ambo on the other hand is a puncher but was beaten last time out, losing a decision in Thailand to Sukkasem Kietyongyuth. Ambo will be looking to return to winning ways, whilst Buenaobra will be looking to extend his unbeaten run to 6 bouts.
Also set for this card is the unbeaten Denmark Quibido (8-0-1, 5), who saw his record being marked up late last year with a technical draw against Joel Taduran. At the time of writing his opponent hasn't been announced.
The biggest bout for us this Saturday is from the US as Filipino maestro Mark Anthony Barriga (9-0, 1) takes on fellow unbeaten Carlos Licona (13-0, 2) in a bout for the vacant IBF Minimumweight. The bout, on the same as Deontay Wilder's contest against Tyson Fury, will be for the title Hiroto Kyoguchi gave up, as he moved up to Light Flyweight, and promises to Barriga a notable platform to showcase his skills, which have been compared to those of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Licona is a bit of a mystery to some, but should prove a good opponent for Barriga. Sadly with neither being much of a puncher this has the potential to be a less than thrilling fight to watch, but in terms of skills on show, both are very talented, and this really could be a special one for purists. A preview of this world title fight can be read here Barriga looks to announce himself on world stage, faces Licona for IBF title
As well as the bout in the US there is also a lot of action in Japan, with 7 title bouts spread across 3 different shows.
The main event of this card will see Japanese Light Welterweight champion Valentine Hosokawa (23-6-3, 10) make his second defense, as he goes up against fellow veteran Takashi Inagaki (20-17-2, 9). The all action Hosokawa won the title late last year and made his first defense in the Champion Carnival earlier this year, stopping Vladimir Baez in May. At the age of 37 Hosokawa is likely fighting father time, but has looked very impressive recently, and a win here will set up a defense against Koki Inoue. Inagaki, fighting in his 40th professional bout, will be getting a third title shot, but will be the clear under-dog against Hosokawa. We expect this will be fun, but it's hard to see Inagaki over-coming the high octane champion. A preview of this Japanese title fight can be read here Hosokawa takes on Inagaki on December 1st!
A potentially exciting supporting bout will see ranked Light Welterweights facing off. In one corner will be Hosokawa's stablemate Yusuke Konno (13-4, 7), the #2 ranked Japanese contender, whilst the other cone will play host to recent Japanese title challenger Vladimir Baez (24-4-2, 22), the same man who was stopped by Hosokawa. Konno will know that he could get a title fight next year, but needs to over-come Baez. Baez on the other hand is ranked by the OPBF and the WBO Asia Pacific as well as the JBC. The winner here will go into the new year with their eyes on title glory, but the loser will have some serious rebuilding to do.
Another supporting nout will see former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Yukinori Oguni (19-2-1, 7) return to the ring for the first since losing the world title to Ryosuke Iwasa In September 2017. The talented Oguni will be easing himself back into action here as he takes on Indonesian journeyman Arega Yunian (6-11, 1) in what should be little more than a tune up for bigger and better things in 2019.
As well as the action in Tokyo there is a busy day in Osaka, with a couple of shows there, featuring a combined 6 title bouts! One of those shows is a female card with 4 title bouts on it.
The most significant of the title contests on the female show will see Kayoko Ebata (12-7, 6) defending her WBO female Minimumweight title against former WBA and IBF champion Etsuko Tada (17-3-2, 5), in what looks like a brilliant must win bout between two veterans. This will be Ebata's second defense of the title she won in May 2017, when she finally won a world title in her fifth shot. Sadly for Ebata she is now 42 and her desire to have a long reign, after all the time she spent chasing a belt, does seem unlikely. At 37 Tada is no spring chicken, but the former 2-time champion does have the edge in youth, experience and winning mentality. We're expecting both to show their age, but that will likely lead to more exchanges and more intense action, which we won't complain about. This world title bout was previewed here Ebata looks to defend WBO crown against Tada
In the chief support bout fans will see former amateur standout Kasumi Saeki (2-0, 1) fight in her first title bout, as she takes on Thai visitor Wassana Kamdee (3-4, 2) in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific female Minimumweight title. Saeki is seen as one of the top Japanese female prospects and will be expected to do a number the Thai, who has been stopped in all 4 defeats, though her performance may decide whether her team fasts tracks her to a world title fight in early 2019 or not.
In an OPBF female Featherweight title bout we'll see Wakako Fujiwara (6-2-2, 2) take on the woman she took the title from, Kimika Miyoshi (13-11-1, 5). Fujiwara's win over Miyoshi for the belt, back in July, saw her extend her unbeaten run to 6 fights, and add the Oriental title to her reign as the Japanese national champion. Sadly for Miyoshi the loss to Fujiwara is her third in a row, and she's now without a win since June 2016. Fujiwara's first win over Miyoshi was an upset, but we suspect this will be a repeat, given the form of both fighters coming into the fight.
The remaining title bout is another OPBF title bout, which will see novice professional Eri Matsuda (1-0) look to set a Japanese record by claiming an OPBF title in just her 2nd professional bout. The talented Matsuda will be up against Minayo Kei (6-3, 1) in a bout for the vacant OPBF female Atomweight title, and if Matsuda wins there's a chance she could set a Japanese record for fewest fights taken to win a world title. Matsuda was a good amateur and it's clear that she believes she can be a very good professional, but this is a genuine test.
The second show in Osaka will also be a Shinsei promoted card from the EDION Arena Osaka, this time however the fous will be men, with two WBO Asia Pacific male title bouts on the show.
One of those bouts will see WBO Asia Pacific Light Flyweight champion Reiya Konishi (16-1, 6) defending his title against Filipino challenger Richard Rosales (13-7-2, 7). For Konishi this will be his first defense, following a victory over Orlie Silvestre for the belt earlier in the year, and he's said to be expecting a world title fight next year, if he wins here. Rosales will play the part of a game challenger, be we suspect he will be ground down by Konishi, and his high intensity work rate and body shots. Despite strongly favouring the champion to retain we do expect this to be a very fan friendly bout. We've previewed this bout here Konishi looks to end year with defense against Rosales
The other title bout will see Masao Nakamura (24-3, 23) and Carlo Magali (23-10-3, 12) battle for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Super Featherweight. Both of these men have held the OPBF version of this title, and both are talented fighters in their own right. Of the two Nakamura is the more pure fighter, and he's a damned good boxer-puncher, but also the more vulnerable. The much shorter Magali is the more defensively sound and has regularly found ways to get inside bigger fighters and breaking them down. This has the potential to be a genuine thriller, with both men capable of hurting the other. A full preview of this bout can be read here Nakamura and Magali to battle for regional crown!
Originally the card was also announced as having former WBA Super Bantamweight champion Shun Kubo (13-1, 9) facing off with Indonesian veteran Noldi Manakane (33-25-2, 18), but this bout was cancelled back in November due to an injury suffered by Kubo. As a result Manakane will face off with 19 year old prospect Ryo Suwa (9-1, 1), who will be looking to score his third win of the year.
This coming Monday Dangan put on their second “Victoriva” show, which took the role of Dangan Ladies. From that it should be clear that this will be an all female show, and it actually features a couple of female title fights.
The main event of the card will see Miyo Yoshida (9-1) take on Filipino foe Gretel de Paz (5-3, 2) in a bout for the vacant OPBF female Bantamweight title. The once beaten Yoshida has reeled off 5 straight wins, including a big win over Tomomi Takano for the Japanese female title, and looks to be getting better and better as she develops her in ring experience. As for de Paz she is pretty much a journey-woman, with her last 3 fights all taking place away from home. The visitor won last time out, against a debutant, but we can't see her beating the very in form Yoshida here.
The second title fight will see Japanese Atomweight champion Nanae Suzuki (6-2-1, 1) defending her belt against Akari Arase (6-4, 1), in what will be Suzuki's first defense of the title. Teh champion claimed the belt back in March, when she took a majority decision win over Sana Hazuki, in what was the second meeting between the two women. The 36 year old Arase is better than her record suggests, having ran Masae Akitaya close last year, but is no world beater and a win here would be her best win to date.
A supporting bout will see the aforementioned Sana Hazuki (6-3-1, 2) taking on the debuting Eri Matsuda (0-0) in a 6 round bout. As mentioned Hazuki has twice faced Suzuki in Japanese title fights, drawing once and losing a majority decision, showing that she is among the top domestic fighters at 102lbs. Matsuda on the other hand was a former amateur stand out who is jumping in at the deep end here. A win for Matsuda would see her announce herself on the national stage and be a huge way to kick off her career, but of course Hazuki is not there to make up the numbers.
Another supporting bout of note will see the once beaten Tomoko Okuda (4-1-1) battle against the unbeaten Yoshie Wakasa (5-0, 2). Okuda lost on her debut but has since gone 4-0-1 and moved into 6 rounders. Wakasa on the other hand has avoided a loss so far, but this will be her first 6 rounder. Interestingly neither fighter has a win of any real note so the winner here will have a career best win.